Both in Swindon and across the country, the pandemic has created backlogs of patients waiting for routine operations and treatment.
The Government has said it expects waiting lists to get worse before they get better as people come forward for help. Relieving the burden of COVID-19, adding to existing pressures on hospital bed capacity and our GPs, can only help.
The Great Western Hospital (GWH) has recently seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 admissions. As of today (10 September), it is treating 48 patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 - which is around a 50% increase from this time last week. Five of these patients are currently in intensive care including some in their 20s and 30s.
Many of these patients have not received either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The GWH is treating far more people under the age of 55 than during the first wave of the pandemic and 85% of patients in this age group are not vaccinated.
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Research has shown the vaccines help:
reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
protect against COVID-19 variants
The latest estimates indicate that the vaccination programme has prevented around 143,000 hospitalisations, 24 million infections and 116,000 deaths across England.
Do you know anyone not yet vaccinated? Make sure they know the facts and get their vaccines to protect themselves, others and the NHS.
Latest COVID-19 case rate data
From 31 August to 6 September, there were 1073 new COVID-19 cases in Swindon, up from 818 the previous week.
As of today (10 September), the COVID-19 case rate in Swindon is 481 per 100k, up from 367 last week. The South West average is 380 per 100k, while the England average is 349 per 100k.
Latest vaccine update
A further 318 residents have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total number of people aged 18 and over vaccinated with the first dose to 162,607 (84.9%).
A total of 4,623 residents have had their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total number of Swindon residents aged 18 and over who are fully vaccinated to 145,272 (75.8%).
This search tool shows the dates and times of the walk-in COVID-19 vaccination sites in Swindon.
Get proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status and test results using the NHS COVID Pass. You may be asked to show a pass to travel abroad, or to attend certain events and venues in the UK.
Helping businesses take action against climate change
Yesterday (9 September), businesses and organisations across Swindon were invited to STEAM, for a local event as part of the national Zero Carbon Tour. When it comes to taking action against climate change, knowing where to start can be difficult, but the event helped to simplify complicated messages around climate change, provide advice on how businesses can reduce their carbon emissions and showcase sustainability initiatives from some impressive local businesses.
The time to act on climate change is now and every individual and organisation in Swindon can play a part. Find out more here.
Natural peatlands play a vital role in the effort to address climate change
10,000 years in the making, healthy peatlands absorb carbon and lock it in the ground. They also reduce flooding, filter and clean water, and provide habitats for rare and endangered wildlife. Yet only 13 per cent of England’s peatlands are in a near-natural state.
That’s why Councillor Keith Williams, Cabinet Member for Climate Change - with the support of other councillors on the Climate Change Advisory Group - has sent a letter to shops and garden centres in Swindon encouraging them to Be the Change and end the sale of peat compost.
£14,800 in fines handed out to fly-tippers in Swindon
We’re cracking down on fly-tipping with a refreshed approach to catching culprits. Since May this year, our team has handed out 37 Fixed Penalty Notices for fly-tipping incidences in the Borough, with a revenue collection of £14,800. Money from these fines is being reinvested back into the service.
This month we're also trialling the use of covert mobile cameras in fly-tipping hotspots within the town. If the trial proves successful, the cameras could become a permanent fixture as a means of catching further perpetrators of fly-tipping.
But we can’t do it alone. There’s two really important things you can do to help tackle fly-tipping in Swindon:
During reconstruction work at White Hart roundabout, contractor
Osborne has discovered that the higher than expected groundwater table has
severely weakened the underlying clay which props up the road base. To combat
the issue, a modified road structure design is being introduced which will
involve laying reinforced plastic grids above the clay and between the stone
layers of the road.
Although the additional work is well underway, the roundabout
closure could be extended for an additional four weeks, although Osborne is
hoping to minimise this as much as possible. You can find out more information on our website.
Change a child’s life in Swindon
“My mum has mental health problems so she can’t look after me anymore. I remember times when no one would be home after school so I’d be left alone. I think that started my feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem, but that got worse because my mum would shout and swear at me.
"The day I came into care, I remember feeling scared because I wasn’t going to see my mum but also because I was going somewhere totally different in a car with people that I didn't even know.
"When we stopped, I met a foster carer called Lynne. I was still scared but she was so caring and kind. Ever since then I've been with Lynne and I have learnt so much.”
As a foster carer you could change the life of a child whose past is impacting their mental health. Find out more about becoming a foster carer.
First phase of town centre improvement scheme to start next month
Over the next few years £33m will be spent transforming Fleming Way and the surrounding land to give the town centre a new lease of life and encourage future investment in the area.
The disused car park will be demolished so the site can be included in the wider plans for the new Fleming Way Bus Boulevard, providing bus stops for some of Swindon’s rural bus services.
Making it easier to cycle around Swindon
Earlier in the year, we allocated £25,500 from the Active Travel Fund to increase cycle parking across Swindon. We asked you for suggestions of where you felt cycle parking was needed and from your feedback, we've now started to install new cycle parking in 46 locations across the town.
We've also received £21,000 from the Healthy Pupils Capital Investment Funding (which is generated from the tax on sugary snacks and drinks) to roll out scooter and bike parking outside 15 schools in the Borough. Find out more about cycling in Swindon here.
Work continues on the Wichelstowe Southern Access
Work is continuing on the site of the Wichelstowe Southern Access, with much of the focus now on the new roundabout being built south of the motorway. We now need to connect the new roundabout and road layout with the existing roads on Hay Lane and Wharf Road, so across the next few weeks, two and three-way traffic lights will be in operation:
Three-way lights will be in place on the junction between Hay Lane and Wharf Road on 10 and 11 September.
Two-way lights and three-way lights will be in place outside the garden centre on Hay Lane and on Wharf Road for approximately five weeks from 13 September.
This work is being phased using temporary traffic lights to cause the least disruption to businesses, residents and road users. Find out more.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Heritage Open Days are back
Tomorrow and Sunday (11 and 12 September) will see Swindon’s historic landmarks opened to the public for free. These sites include the Railway Village, Carriage Works and Lydiard Gardens.
Come along from 10am each day to learn more about Swindon’s rich history and take part in activities for the whole family.
A competition is being run as part of celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee, for towns to bid for city status. Local residents, businesses and organisations are being asked for their thoughts on whether Swindon should bid for this honour. You can contribute your thoughts using the short survey that has been set up.